Fantasy Football: 2QB Dynasty Strategy for Running Backs

West Willliams Foster

It’s that time of year again where most of the non-“fanatical” people are putting together dynasty leagues and looking over rankings, projections and their own draft boards.  Spreadsheets are flying, opinions are getting heated and people are generally getting more anxious to get started.

Myself, I’ve planted a few flags this season, my first at FakePigskin.  Our free draft guide is coming out July 1st so be sure to sign up to receive that the moment it comes off the press (just put your email address in at the bottom of the front page).  While looking over this, if you’re joining a 2QB dynasty startup draft, be sure to start organizing the positions in your head as to their positional scarcity, and also by the positional turnover rate.

In two of the point per reception (PPR) 2QB dynasty leagues where I participated in a startup draft rather than taking over an orphan, they have one thing in common: I didn’t draft a running back until at least the seventh round.  In one league it was Isiah Crowell followed immediately by Ameer Abdullah (in 2015) and in the other it was Terrance West followed immediately by Devonta Freeman (in 2014).  I swear I’m not a Browns fan.

In the 2014 league with West and Freeman, I finished the year starting Frank Gore and Brandon Oliver.  I got Gore in the thirteenth round and picked up Oliver off the waiver wire.  You may think I shot myself in the foot getting West and Freeman, but I almost won the league.

This loose strategy with running backs is an important thing to note when looking at draft position.  When do you dive into running backs?  You’re going to be scrambling to replace them at some point anyway, so how much up-front draft capital do you spend on them?

You don’t necessarily need to draft studs at running back early in 2QB dynasty PPR leagues.  While everyone else seems to be employing various strategies, you can wrap up the top quarterbacks followed by the best wide receivers or tight ends and still win the league.

A running back will not win your dynasty league unless it’s non-PPR and you spend a first round pick on a guy who might (or might not) give you a shot at a year one or two win like Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles.  Even though the format leans toward the position, the running backs will most likely not be around as long as a good starting young quarterback, wide receiver or tight end.  This imbalance is one of the key reasons that leagues are leaning away from standard scoring and more toward point per reception leagues.  No one likes spending a first round pick on a guy whose job is never secure past that next collision with his knee.  “Here’s the ball.  We’re going to try to open a hole for you.  Run that way.”  They’re not usually so difficult to replace.

With the upcoming season in that same 2014 league I draft at the 1.08 spot and I think there will be good RB options open there if I can’t get good value from trading up or down.   Running backs weren’t really my concern at all last year.  Now that things are shaking out from the first year of that league’s wide receivers and running backs, I can drop about half of them or trade them for running back prospects.  Because I didn’t go after RBs last year I have Jordy Nelson, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks and Charles Johnson to run out onto the field.  My quarterbacks are set with Roethlisberger and Rivers and my tight ends are Gronk and Graham because we have to start two TE’s.  Those two tight ends were my first two picks, in case you couldn’t guess.

Here’s the crux of the argument:

What a luxury! To not have to worry about drafting any position year two!  If there’s a great value at some other position I might jump, but really the only thing I’d call a team “want” second year is more running back lottery picks.  The player positions with longer lifespans have several more years ahead of them to replace.  I can look at the running back opportunities going forward in a buyer’s market, rather than worrying about getting more value out of the ones I drafted before they flame out, get cut or go down due to injury.

…Because they’re running backs.  They will flame out, get cut or go down due to injury.  I’m picking up the seventh round guys who have good positional opportunity.   Next year they might be Arian Foster or they might be Zac Stacy.  Either way, I’m winning the leagues with the other players over the next decade.  The running backs are just the additional pieces that come and go with their short life cycles in the NFL.

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